September 12, 2007

Gone til November

Looks like we're going to have wait a while to get a glimpse of new Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mark Bell. Until November 6th, to be precise. Bell has been suspended 15 games by the NHL.

Well, folks, it could have been worse.

Last month Bell pleaded guilty to drunken driving and hit-and-run charges in California. He'll be going to the slammer once the 2007/2008 hockey season is over - hopefully in June if the stars align - for six months.

Here's a crazy thought: if the Leafs win the Stanley Cup (crazy indeed), would Bell be allowed take the Cup to prison for a day? That would be pretty neat, especially for all the other inmates.

It's been a tough few weeks for Bell. After pleading no-contest to the charges in court in late August, he was suspended indefinitely by the NHL and placed in Stage 2 of the NHL's substance abuse program.

Word dropped today of the 15 game suspension. Commissioner Gary Bettman, in a statement, said all the regular shit all the commissioner's say when a pro athlete acts like a complete idiot and gets in trouble with the law: playing in the league is a privilege and, yada-yada-yada, don't drink and drive.

This corner is going to show Bell some love, because he's tackled his off-ice problems head-on (directly to the forehead). He's not running away or blaming anybody else. He's publicly said he's been sober ever since the incident last year. He's changing his life and looking towards the future. Everyone makes mistakes, Bell's no different.

For some reason though, the NHLPA doesn't agree. They issued a statement saying the suspension doesn't serve any purpose, considering Bell will be going to prison. Clearly, the NHLPA is smoking something. Bell was drinking driving, he could have killed the man he smashed into, and he left the scene of the accident. The NHL had to discipline Bell, just like society did. Bell could have got 20, 30 or even 40 games and it would have been understandable.

I think Bell's got a lot of potential and will bring a lot to the Leafs. He's big, has scored over 20 goals in the league, and is still pretty young. It would have been nice to see him in the starting lineup on opening night, but he'll be a great addition to the team come November.

In other Maple Leafs news, the team unveiled their new jersey today, with only a few subtle changes. It's just another way for MLSE to exploit their fans and make more money. Some things will never change. I know I'll probably end up getting the new duds - I'm one of the chumps they keep ripping off, and proud of it. I already own three Leafs jerseys, but I guess there's always room for one more.

Only 17 more days until the Leafs open their regular season. Excitement is there.